European ecommerce leaders Ikea and H&M announced plans to increase sustainability and lower carbon emissions in 2023.
Ikea will switch to eco-friendly glue
Ikea’s 2030 climate goals require boosting renewable energy use and reducing the climate footprint of its materials. Also tucked among those challenges is the glue that holds some of the furniture giant’s most popular products together.
The glue Ikea uses to make its beds, sofas and everything in between makes up 5% of its total carbon impact, according to its 2022 Sustainability Report.
“Moving toward glues from renewable sources is a key enabler to achieving our overall climate goal,” Ikea said in the report. But “a big challenge with bio-based glues remains that not all are compatible with our current conventional glue and application technology.” Factories will have to switch to organic glues and update their machines and technology, Ikea said.
The company behind the Billy book case has a target to become climate-positive by the end of this decade. Ikea plans to reduce more emissions than it emits. Since 2016, Ikea reduced its emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents by 12%, including by 5% last year, per the report.
Ikea is No. 3 in the Europe Database, Digital Commerce 360’s rankings of the largest online retailers in the region.
Sustainability changes will impact the whole company
Ikea says it will address emissions across its supply chain and operations, from factories to transport. Plans will also target the impact of its roughly 460 stores. The company plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its supply chain, targeting 100% renewable energy in its production by the end of the decade. In 2022, production ran on 50% renewables.
Ikea’s energy goal includes helping suppliers finance solar panels and boilers at factories. The program, launched in 2021, first focused on supporting suppliers in China, India and Poland, where coal use is among the highest. It will now expand to countries including Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Turkey and Vietnam.
“One of the biggest drivers behind our reduced emissions has been the movement toward more renewable energy,” said Andreas Rangel Ahrens, head of climate at Inter Ikea Group, the brand’s global franchiser.
In 2018, Ikea laid out ambitions to use only renewable and recycled materials in its products by 2030. However, emissions from materials grew about 11% in the past six years. Rangel Ahrens said the gain was because of an increase in produced volumes.
H&M will give used clothing a second life
H&M is expanding into the business of textile-sorting as it forms a venture to deal with waste in the fashion industry.
The Swedish retailer created a joint venture with recycling company Remondis. The business, called Looper Textile Co, will extend the life of about 40 million garments in 2023. Looper Textile collects used and unwanted clothing and resells them to secondhand fashion companies and the recycling industry.
H&M is No. 11 in the Europe Database, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking.
“What we are doing is taking unsorted waste and transforming it into something usable,” Looper Textile CEO Emily Bolon said in a phone interview.
The fashion industry is under pressure to be more green
Looper Textile will collect garments from municipal containers across Europe and from H&M’s in-store collection program. The company estimates that 60% of collected items are usable for resale. Those items go to European online platforms, off-price secondhand chains in eastern Europe or importers in Africa. A third of clothes are sent to recycling plants, where they can work as car insulation or sofa stuffing. The process is known in the sector as “downcycling.”
Garments unfit for reuse or recycling account for 5% of all collections, and the company will burn them at power plants, Bolon said.
Human workers will do most sorting, although the company will also use some automated technology.
H&M’s move comes as pressure mounts on an industry that produces 100 billion apparel items each year, about 14 garments for every person on Earth. Only about a third of unwanted clothes are collected, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The industry recycles less than 1% of that into new fashion, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK nonprofit.
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